The guild of Dionysiac artists from Isthmos and Nemea was a large organisation, which had several autonomous local branches; for a summary of what is known about it, see A. Kotlinska-Toma, "Hellenistic Tragedy: Texts, Translations and a Critical Survey", pp.276-7 ( Google Books ). The branch in Argos was clearly very wealthy, and was able to cultivate good relations with foreign kings such as Nikomedes of Bithynia. The immediate background to this decree was a dispute with the Dionysiac artists from Athens, as described in Syll_705.C-D.
There is a German translation of the inscription by H. Kotsidu, "TIMĒ KAI DOXA", p. 110 ( Google Books ).
Since Zenon [of Argos], son of Hekatodoros, [has continued on every occasion to be piously] disposed towards the gods, and kindly disposed [towards the association of the Dionysiac artists] from Isthmos and Nemea belonging to the [guild] in Argos, [and in all matters] he has given [many great] demonstrations of his noble conduct and has taken every [care in the greatest] offices of the guild, in a fine manner and to the advantage of the [public] affairs [of the guild]; and in all matters he has conducted himself in a manner worthy of [the good faith that has been shown] by him since he was a boy; and when he was appointed by the guild to be treasurer for the thirty-second [year, he revealed] that much of the guild's money was missing from the official total, and he informed the community [of the artists] about [all] those who had drawn out some [of this money] over many years; and at the request of the artists 10 he took care of the recovery of the money, [in all matters] conducting himself in a fine manner and to the advantage of the public affairs of the guild; [and from the] money that was recovered by him, each month he performed the sacrifices prescribed by law for the artists [during the days] of the guild meeting; and he declared fervently [that] a statue of Dionysos should be [constructed] for the guild, with limbs of marble and a robe of gold; and when the resources of the guild were depleted, he gave the money from what had been recovered by him; [and he spoke earnestly] concerning the construction . . . in the precinct . . . and when he was asked by the artists to take care [of all] these things, he let out all the
tasks for the sanctuaries with all zeal, and brought about many benefits for the guild . . . and at [this he declared that] . . . 20 and Bacchic tripods should be maintained for the guild, [and he] let out this task profitably; and in all matters he acted in a manner that was typical of his [habitual] noble conduct on [important occasions], and he blamelessly [brought about] not only these obvious [benefits for the] guild but also [many other things] that have not been mentioned, [which he performed well] on behalf of [the guild; and he took] care concerning the construction of a base for the statue of our [benefactor] king Nikomedes, and the setting up of the statue, and of another even more splendid statue [within the] precinct; and he also spoke about constructing a place for the god, and creating a doorway in its entrance, and putting a roof over the place where the sacrifice to the god may be performed from the money that has been recovered [by him]; therefore so that the artists may be seen to attribute [praise] and honours to their [benefactors] with suitable gratitude, and they may have many others who are keen to act similarly, with good [fortune] it is resolved by the [Dionysiac] artists from Isthmos and Nemea belonging to the guild in Argos 30 to praise Zenon [of Argos], son of Hekatodoros, [for his] goodwill and his probity concerning the public affairs of the guild, and to crown him [with a golden crown] as is traditional for us on the day of the god, and to place a bronze statue of him, [with this] inscription: 'The association of the Dionysiac artists from Isthmos and Nemea [belonging to the guild in Argos honours Zenon] of Argos, son of Hekatodoros, on account of his virtue and his benevolence towards the guild.' Xenon the [treasurer] shall give [money for the cost associated with the statue] to whoever is appointed as overseer of the statue. The secretary Aristokles shall take [care of the preparation of the] crown, and the magistrates - [both those in office now and those appointed in the future - and the] secretary [in office at any time] shall take care [that this decree is read out] on the day of the god, and the secretary who is appointed [shall take] care . . . [that at the next] Nemean games in the gymnastic contest [this] proclamation is made: '[The association of the Dionysiac artists] from Isthmos and Nemea belonging to the guild in Argos 40 crowns [Zenon of Argos, son of Hekatodoros, with a golden crown] on account of his virtue and the benevolence which he continually has towards [the guild, and it has placed a bronze statue of him in the] precinct. With good fortune.' Whoever is appointed as [overseer of the statue] shall inscribe [this decree of the guild] on the base of the statue.
→ inscription 177
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